Historically, there have been connections between drugs and religion. An example of this can be linked to the ancient Aztecs and their drug of choice, psilocybin, which is modernly known as magic mushrooms. The Aztecs referred to this drug as ‘God’s Flesh’ and it was involved in a number of religious ceremonies. During present day, it has become known that psilocybin is a hallucinogenic drug. Any religious images or signs an Aztec could have experienced while on the drug were just hallucinations that the drug induced.
Today’s knowledge of drugs are quite advanced compared to the Aztecs; however, this has not stopped drugs from entering religion in the North American society. News has recently come forward that the ‘Church of the Universe’ was eagerly trying to legalize marijuana for religious reasons. The church “holds the Tree of Life, Marijuana as sacred from the Garden of Eden, a gift from God” (Church of the Universe, 1969). Everyone is allowed to have their own belief system; but lets be smart about this, youth are very impressionable and the news of drug friendly religions may bring about more usage and curiosity. Is this what we want as a society?
On February 7th, the courts turned the church’s marijuana proposition down since the “religious use is barely distinguishable from recreational use” (Posadzki, 2011). It was understood that the church had know structure when giving their members the drug. It did not have to be a special occasion and the members did not have to attend the church regularly to receive the drug. This type of drug usage can be compared to a modern day dealer. The church’s more acceptable attitude towards marijuana and easier access can give youth the means and understanding to abuse it.
Fortunately, many religious beliefs are protective factors towards youth when they consider drug use. In many religions there is structure and historical meaning to drug usage. Such as the Catholic faith, wine is a sacrament to the blood of Christ. This is only available for youth within the church during special religious occasions, such as mass. In a study conducted by Jerald Bachman and John Wallace (2001), it was found that individuals who consider themselves very religious and routinely attend church functions are less likely to participate in drug related activities outside church due to their belief system. When drugs and religion are intertwined appropriately, there are more positive outcomes.
Once again, everyone is justified to have their own religious beliefs; however, when combined correctly, religion is still perceived as a protective factor for youth during their choice to abstain from drug related activities. In your opinion, is society becoming too open when combining drugs and religion?
Bachman, Jerald & Wallace, John. (2001). Religion and Drug Abuse [Electronic version]. Encyclopedia ofDrugs, Alcohol & Addictive Behaviour. 3. 955-961.
Church of the Universe. (1969). Retrieved February 8th 2011, from http://www.iamm.com/
Posadzki, Alexandra. (2011). Church rejects church’s bid for marijuana-law exemption. Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved February 8th 2011, from: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/canada/court rejects-churchs-bid-for-marijuana-law-exemption-115545499.html
Psilcybin: Psilocybin Mushrooms. (2011). Retrieved February 8th 2011, from http://www.lycos.com/info/psilocybin--psilocybin-mushrooms.html
Smith, Huston. (1964). Do Drugs have Religious Import? [Electronic version]. Journal of Philosophy. LXI.
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